David Badre


On his book On Task: How Our Brain Gets Things Done

Cover Interview of December 16, 2020


Cognitive control is central to our lives, but there is little broad understanding of the science behind it. I hope that readers will be introduced to something they didn’t know before and will gain a better understanding of this core but unfamiliar cognitive function. Though On Task is not strictly a self-help book, readers may also be able to use this knowledge to help cognitive control in their own lives. Cognitive control is within our control, so to speak, and we can structure our lives and environment to help our cognitive control system.

Further, there is a lot of misinformation out there about concepts like executive function and brain structures like the prefrontal cortex. I commonly see claims being made about executive function that are not well grounded in scientific evidence, particularly among groups known to need aid with their executive function, like children or older adults. This has resulted in confusions and some widely held misconceptions.

Moreover, there are also a number of widely marketed cognitive training interventions that claim to improve cognitive control or executive function. I treat that topic directly in the book and suggest to readers ways that they can evaluate such claims for themselves.

Having a firmer grasp of the science may help readers navigate these topics better when they encounter them in their everyday lives. More generally, this book presents a story about how scientists approach a perplexing scientific problem. I hope reading that captivating tale will contribute to promoting curiosity and an appreciation of science in the broader public.